Green got the best rare in the set and by far the most expensive one, but is Fauna Shaman all hype? Is Obstinate Baloth going to see play? How will Overwhelming Stampede effect token decks? All this, and more, can be yours. Just keep reading!
Birds of Paradise have been reprinted with far too much frequency to ever repeat their former $10 price tag. When Noble Hierarch leaves Standard, Birds will likely be their handcuff. If you plan on using a 1-drop mana fixer, get your copies now. The price should uptick slightly when Hierarch leaves the format, but only if the metagame calls for a deck that uses such a card. Hold, since the price adjustment is uncertain and not likely to be very large.
Elvish Archdruid is one of the most powerful Lords the tribe has received in recent times. Imperious Perfect, not returning in M11, is up there too, but Archdruid's consistent ability to turn mediocre board positions into Eldrazi Monument-fueled blowouts is too powerful to ignore. He reached double digits once before when he saw tier 1 play, and the narrowing of the Extended format may lead Elves to the forefront again. I'd like to own many copies before someone finds the correct home and environment for abuse. Buy.
Fauna Shaman is the most hyped non-mythic of the set and for good reason. Even though putting a Survival of the Fittest on a Bear Cub, calling it an Elf, and requiring it to tap seems pretty good, the comparison should not be made to Survival. The effect being mitigated by a creature's vulnerability and its need to wait a full turn cycle puts a damper on the card's immediate impact, but as demonstrated with Lotus Cobra, sometimes a Bear that generates extra value is all you need. Don't build a deck around her, but build her into a deck. No one needs to be informed of the shenanigans that can occur when Vengevine starts fetching more Vengevines, Ranger of Eos and Bloodbraid Elf. Figuring out where to slot this card and how to use it will be a popular topic among strategy writers in the near future, so the hype should stay strong. This card is difficult to rate, since it may very well be as good as advertised. It will not get a Buy rating since it $12 is high for a modern rare, but it won't merit a sell rating since the odds are good it stabilizes at $10. Hold, since it is unlikely to move too far from its current position until it becomes more clear how the card will effect tier 1 play.
Leyline of Vitality actually pisses me off as a card. Yes, I'm aware that a free Soul Warden 45% of the time is just oodles of fun, and making your team ever so slightly harder to kill seems pretty valuable in a weenie deck or token deck and all, but just who the hell is playing this over every other option? There's no reason I can see for this card to exist. In no format does it justify its existence. The Soul Warden effect only triggers on your own guys, by the way. The only time I could see this card being used otherwise is to hold off swarm style decks with some life gain and cheap blockers, but this is not the card you want in the Tokens vs Tokens mirror match. Ironically enough, this is the one Leyline that really works better in multiples. Unfortunately, even in multiples it's completely awful. I'm rating this a Buy, but only because I plan to buy every copy on earth for fractions of pennies each. Why? Because I'm going to make a big pile of them in the parking lot out back of my store and set them all aflame. Then there won't be any left and if you kept your copies they'll be 'rare' now. In all seriousness, this card sucks and is Irrelevant as a bulk rare.
Mitotic Slime is cause for another Nerd 101. We here at Doubling Season like to educate where we can, and that doesn't just stop at pricing out cards! You see, Mitotic Slime is named after the reproductive process of Mitosis, in which a single cell replicates its DNA and splits into two identical new cells. Mitotic Slime is so-named due to its ability to split itself multiple times, but only if it hits the graveyard. Unfortunately, the majority of "good" removal in M11 and the current competitive environment is Exile-based removal. Thus, Mitotic Slime will end up as an over-costed version of Sprouting Thrinax and won't see much tournament play. Sell, but be wary of the fact that casual players and EDH players who can force it to the 'yard will want a copy or two. That isn't enough basis to command even an average price tag.
Obstinate Baloth is the other 2GG card in the set, and by "other", I mean "good". Carrying on the tradition of playable life-gain cards with creature type "Baloth", this card has big implications for the Standard format. It doesn't "beat Jund" by itself, it merely spells the end of Blightning and forces Jund to go bigger, perhaps playing Baloths of their own. We can anticipate some splash damage to mono-Red decks, since a card like this makes racing into a really tall order. It should remain above $5 as long as it sees any tier 1 play, and that will not be a difficult scenario to imagine. The 4-drop spot in green decks has some of the best cards in the game, but this card could easily end up as a valuable roleplayer. Hold, since there is little chance it goes higher. Regardless, you will probably need a playset and any minor fluctuation in price won't be enough to matter.
Overwhelming Stampede is a card that makes me mad to see in a core set. Core sets are meant to introduce new players to the game of Magic, and this card could not do a worse job. This card encourages new players to make the "romantic" play rather than the "conservative" play. Overrun saw play as a finisher in token decks since it allowed an insignificant board position to become lethal in one turn. +1/+1 and trample doesn't quite feel as good, especially for what is practically the same mana cost. It might see play, but it's just a bad Overrun. Yes you will occasionally blow someone away by Overwhelming them with +12/+12, but mostly it won't get the job done. Sell.
Ending the set with a whimper rather than a bang, Protean Hydra remains Irrelevant, despite being downgraded to a rare. Huzzah.
Green got two of the best damn rares in the set, and befitting the color of money, they will continue to remain pricey. Jonathan does not believe in rares, but I do (to a degree). Fauna Shaman is the real deal and Obstinate Baloth will see a lot of play too. The only potential bargain in the color's rares is Elvish Archdruid, which has a lot of potential given the power of Monument-based Elf decks. Other than those three cards, green didn't get much to talk about, but those three alone are very powerful cards and will see a lot of competitive play. Keep your eyes on the front page for my Colorless & Uncommon discussion coming up soon!
Weekly Column: Quiet Speculation
Kelly Reid has been playing Magic since Revised Edition, when his first purchase was a starter deck and a Scrye magazine. He threw away the magazine and kept the price guide. Years later, he founded Quiet Speculation, the first website dedicated to the financial side of Magic: The Gathering. Preferring to leave strategy to the professionals, Kelly writes about potential sleepers, undervalued cards, and trends as well as covering a wide breadth of theory articles.
Kelly's work has been published across the Internet, including Star City Games,The Starkington Post, ManaNation, MTGO Academy and soon, Blackborder.com. He has appeared on the Top 8 Magic podcast, the Yo! MTG Taps podcast, and Evan Erwin's Magic Show in addition to having his decks featured on MagicTheGathering.com. As editor and content manager of Doubling Season, Kelly will be covering a wide variety of topics. His main competitive format is Standard, and he prefers to leave the Eternal formats to Doug and Jonathan. Having sat for (and passed) the Series 7 and Series 66 financial regulatory examinations, as well as having traded stock for fun and profit, Kelly draws numerous parallels between Wall St and Magic's in-game economy.
As one of the founding members of Doubling Season, Kelly will bring his diverse writing experience as the content manager of the site. He also suggested the name, which comes from his general trading strategy to aim for a mean profit margin of 100%. He will be at the helm of the ship alongside Doug and Jonathan.
Read all of Kelly's articles here!